Moscow theater director calls Putin a 'killer' and resigns in protest over Russia's invasion of Ukraine

  • The head of a state-run theater in Moscow called Putin a "killer" as she announced her resignation.

  • "You can't work for a killer and get paid by him," Elena Kovalskaya, who runs the Meyerhold Center theater, said on Facebook.

  • Kovalskaya said on Thursday she was quitting in protest over Russia's wide-ranging attack on Ukraine.

The director of a state-run theater in Moscow on Thursday publicly called Russian President Vladimir Putin a "killer" as she announced that she was stepping down from her post in protest over Russia's wide-ranging attack on Ukraine.

"Friends, in protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I am resigning," Elena Kovalskaya, the director of the Meyerhold Center theater, posted on Facebook.

Kovalskaya added, "You can't work for a killer and get paid by him."

"I will bring my projects — the ones I have initiated — to the end, on a voluntary basis," Kovalskaya said.

Meanwhile, the theater — named after late Russian playwright Vsevolod Meyerhold — also spoke out on Facebook, saying that Russia's relentless aggression in Ukraine has "now come into tragic conflict with our mission."

"We cannot be silent about this. We only have this left to say: 'No to war,'" the performing arts venue said in the social media post. "War is much more than disrespect for a person, and much more horrifying. War is the death of a person, it is the killing of people."

The theater also thanked Kovalskaya for her "courage."

Putin early Thursday ordered a broad military invasion of Ukraine with missile strikes on several Ukrainian cities. Blasts have since been heard in multiple locations, including Ukraine's capital Kyiv and the eastern city of Kharkiv.

Russia's conflict with Ukraine has been rumbling for years, but dramatically escalated in recent weeks.

Russia assembled vast numbers of troops around Ukraine — as many as 190,000, per US estimates — in the largest military operation in the region since World War II.

Putin on Monday recognized the independence of two Moscow-backed separatist regions in eastern Ukraine — Luhansk and Donetsk — and ordered troops there for what he described as a limited peacekeeping operation in the east of the country.

Less than 72 hours later, Putin authorized a full-scale attack on Ukraine. In the hours that followed, explosions pounded cities around Ukraine, many hundreds of miles from the previous conflict zone. Ukrainian officials reported fighting on its borders with Russia, and dozens of casualties.

The new wave of hostilities expanded the clash from a limited incursion over disputed land into the most serious armed conflict in Europe for at least a decade.

Insider's live blog of the invasion is covering developments as they happen.

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